MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — John Bonamego stood at the podium in the NIRSA Room in the Student Activity Center on Central Michigan’s campus, about 100 yards from Kelly-Shorts Stadium.With the Central Michigan logo plastered behind him, he fielded questions about who would start at quarterback, the running back competition and status of tight end Tyler Conklin. That Bonamego was there to answer them was more remarkable than any of his answers.He had wanted this job since playing wide receiver for the Chippewas in the 1980s. Even as he made his way around NFL sidelines, in Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans, Miami and finally Detroit, he never forgot about Mount Pleasant. In 1999, at a Dairy Queen in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Bonamego and the woman who would become his wife sat down for their first date.“The first thing we talked about … was CMU,” Paulette Bonamego said.In 2015, Bonamego was the special teams coordinator for the Lions when then-CMU head coach Dan Enos left. Central Michigan considered Bonamego a natural fit. He lived a few counties southeast, was an alumnus and had more than 15 years of NFL experience. In February of that year, CMU introduced its new head coach. That fall, he nearly beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome before the Orange kicked an overtime field goal to win, 30-27. This fall, on Saturday, Bonamego leads the Chippewas (2-0) back into the Dome for a rematch with the Orange (1-1) at 3:30 p.m.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut in summer 2015, a few months before his first game, the job Bonamego had always wanted was in jeopardy. He was diagnosed with cancer. But that didn’t worry him the most.“There’s people relying on you,” Bonamego said. “My biggest motivator through all that was not beating cancer. I knew that I would beat cancer. My biggest fear was that I would somehow let somebody down. I didn’t want to let anybody down. I didn’t want to have a situation where someone else was having to do my work.”Courtesy of Paulette BonamegoA few months earlier, in Phoenix for Bonamego’s first Mid-American Conference spring meeting, he and Paulette decided to hike the local foothills.As they ascended, Bonamego kept stopping to rest, which Paulette thought was unusual. At first, she began to tease Bonamego, saying “I beat you, I beat you.” But then she stopped joking. Bonamego had never gotten tired like this before.Weeks later, in Florida for their son Javier’s high school graduation, Paulette noticed a golf ball-sized lump protruding from Bonamego’s neck. She suspected it was a swollen lymph node, so Bonamego took some cold medicine.Bonamego rarely slept through the night and, when his eyes finally did close, he woke up drenched in sweat. To the Bonamegos, this was not unusual. Nights like these started when he was the Lions, and they dismissed them as normal side effects from stress. He had a demanding job and they had a dusty house in Birmingham with poor air circulation. Paulette sweat during the night, too. But even after they moved to Mount Pleasant, the night sweats persisted.“Those were signs and we just kind of ignored them,” Paulette said. “… We just never thought about it.”The cold medicine wasn’t working. Nothing was. So, they went to the doctor, who told Bonamego he had cancer. Paulette struggled to breath. She felt an “emotional sickness.”“Hearing those words gets your attention,” Bonamego said.On June 18, Bonamego published an open letter on CMU’s web site to announce he had a tumor on his left tonsil. Published on September 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm Contact Andrew: email@example.com | @A_E_Graham Facebook Twitter Google+ Days began before 5 a.m. every Monday through Friday, the couple drove together about two hours southeast to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Bonamego underwent radiation and received weekly doses of chemotherapy.Because of where the cancer manifested, the easiest way to irradiate Bonamego’s tonsil was through his neck. To ensure he didn’t absorb stray radiation at the daily appointments, Bonamego needed to lie completely still. He sometimes lay there for several hours without moving. The entire time, his head was held in place by a mesh mask.“When you get in those situations,” Bonamego said, “you really don’t have any other option. You can give up, or you can fight it.”Even though doctors detected the cancer early and it was a treatable strain, squamous cell carcinoma, the regimen ravaged Bonamego’s body. His toenails and fingernails split and cracked. He shed 70 pounds. His tongue swelled and his mouth filled with about 30 canker sores. He broke out in rashes and the radiation burned his neck until it blistered. As he returned for more treatment, flesh fell from his neck and his players grew accustomed to seeing their coach’s shirt collar permanently soaked with blood.“You have times that aren’t so bad,” Bonamego said, “and times that just, for lack of a better word, suck.”Eventually, to keep him properly nourished and hydrated, Bonamego required twice-a-day fluid IVs, along with a feeding tube.The restless nights became almost intolerable. He only slept sitting up, in short spells, and woke often to throw up. Paulette kept cool washcloths on her husband’s forehead and tried to stay awake with him. She felt guilty about falling asleep. The care seemed to make no difference. While the pain fogged Bonamego’s memory — he still doesn’t remember certain moments from that time — the objective remained clear.Steve Jessmore | Central Michigan UniversityIn his last three weeks of treatment, as it slowly cleansed Bonamego’s body, the CMU athletic boosters and alumni association pooled to pay for the Bonamegos to fly to Ann Arbor each morning.Two months after the diagnosis, at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bonamego rang the cancer-free bell. When he returned to campus, it was time to get ready for practice. Walking out of the tunnel in Kelly-Shorts Stadium, the band, faculty, cheerleaders, fans, CMU president George E. Ross and the whole football team ambushed Bonamego.On Aug. 21, Bonamego was cancer-free. Thirteen days later, on a Thursday night against Oklahoma State, he coached his first game as Central Michigan’s head man.While Bonamego lived a nightmare, he never strayed from his dream. Occasionally, Paulette offered Bonamego what she called a “hall pass,” to skip work that day to rest. She told him the other coaches knew what to do and the players would understand. But, to Bonamego, that wasn’t the point.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorIn his two months battling cancer, he never missed a practice or meeting. Part of his attendance was maintaining any sense of normalcy in his shaken-up life. Part of it was showing the players what he had always taught them about perseverance.Now, the mesh mask he wore during those blasts of radiation treatment sits in a closet at home. It is the shadow of the man cancer made him, the one that still follows him. It is a reminder of what he had to do to sustain his dream. Paulette finds it spooky.Sometimes, she finds the mask in the closet, staring back at her. She asks Bonamego if they can finally throw it away. His answer has never changed.“No,” he says. Comments
A lot of people think about “what could have been.” They often think of those from the past as “the one that got away,” and they might imagine from time to time what it would or could have been if only things worked out.This is all based on the idea of “potential,” a scary and truly unpredictable concept. “Potential” is often said with a positive connotation, but the word still gives space for infinite possibilities, good or bad. This risky concept mixed with timing can be especially complex in dating, and I as well have personally been left wondering what could have been because of these two concepts.We first met in high school through mutual friends and hit it off. We chatted frequently through AIM Express and stayed connected by chatting on the phone almost every night. We ended up going to a high school dance together but after that, things cooled down.We didn’t talk as much and got caught up in our own hobbies and busy academic schedules. It was serendipitous for us to end up at the same college two years later, where we reconnected and spent heaps of time together. I met him when he was a dorky high school boy and saw him transform into a handsome, professional man.Throughout those years, we were always close and deeply cared for each other. All our mutual friends continuously teased us and asked why we weren’t together, which resulted in me trying to ask myself the same question. It took me a while to figure it out. In hindsight, though, it was actually a really simple answer: timing.Many of us have experienced this frustrating feeling of meeting someone we can’t be with. Or sometimes we’re hurt over a relationship or fling that didn’t work out. Often, we are impatient with ourselves in these circumstances and create a mental hype based on potential. However, deep down (however far that may be) we know that it wasn’t meant to be. That realization might take some time to come to mind, too, but regardless, it’s important to value the beauty of timing and patience.I truly believe that the universe’s sense of timing works in our favor. Some things just don’t work out, but for good reason, perhaps through things we don’t see. And when timing is good and things work out, it is for good reason. It’s all about learning to be patient, to allow things to fall in place as they should and to trust the process. Some things just truly take time, and if we don’t let them organically grow, then we’re cutting ourselves short with an artificial substitute.He was kind and was with me through multiple sh-tty relationships, as I did for him. Yet there was never really a good time for either of us to give us a chance, although we were seemingly good together. At times it seemed frustrating but in hindsight it was a blessing. If we had been together, I possibly would have never met or gotten to know some amazing people in my life right now. He also probably wouldn’t have ended up with the fantastic girlfriend he has now. And for these things I am so thankful for being patient and allowing things to be the way they were.These are things you probably have heard before: the value of patience and timings a b-tch. But in the midst of these two things I think we often forget to be grateful for the seeming complexity of the situation and simply trust the process. Instead of focusing on the now and continuously working to feed into our expectations and judgments of the situation, perhaps it’s best to just sit back and let things take their own course.Dani Chang is a senior majoring in cinematic arts, critical studies. Her column, “Feisty Woman,” runs every other Friday.
MORE: Rapinoe rips U.S. Soccer for ‘blatant misogyny and sexism’The documents stated the federation’s position that there is a fundamental difference in “overall soccer playing ability” between the U.S. men’s nationa team and the USWNT, while adding that the position is not “a sexist stereotype” but rather “indisputable science.” Additionally, the document stated that playing for the men’s team “requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of WNT player.”In the days since, Cordeiro and U.S. Soccer have come under fire, with Megan Rapinoe and MLS commissioner Don Garber among those to state their disappointment and frustration with the wording used in those documents.Furthermore, a number of key sponsors, including Volkswagen, Visa, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Deloitte, have condemned the federation’s stance, with Volkswagen adding that the company is “disgusted” with U.S. Soccer’s “unacceptable” language. In the wake of those comments, several prominent former USWNT stars, including Abby Wambach and Michelle Akers, had called for Cordeiro’s resignation while longtime USMNT regulars DaMarcus Beasley and Dax McCarty were among those to condemn the tone used in the legal documents.It has been an incredible privilege to serve as the President of U.S. Soccer.My one and only mission has always been to do what is best for our Federation.After discussions with the Board of Directors, I have decided to step down, effective immediately. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/4B7siuIqcL— Carlos Cordeiro (@CACSoccer) March 13, 2020Cordeiro issued an apology Wednesday night as the USWNT took down Japan 3-1 in the SheBelieves Cup, but the longtime U.S. soccer executive has now announced that he will step down from his role as president. “My one and only mission has always been to do what is best for our Federation, and it has become clear to me that what is best right now is a new direction,” Cordeiro said in a statement. “The arguments and language contained in this week’s legal filing caused great offense and pain, especially to our extraordinary Women’s National Team players who deserve better.”It was unacceptable and inexcusable. I did not have the opportunity to fully review the filin in its entirety before it was submitted, and I take repsonsibility for not doing so. Had I done so, I would have objected to the language that did not reflect my personal admiration for our women’s players or our values as an organization.” Carlos Cordeiro has stepped down as U.S. Soccer president in the wake of controversial court filings in the ongoing U.S. women’s national team equal pay lawsuit. As a part of the ongoing lawsuit, documents were released Monday featuring a number of controversial statements about the USWNT. He added: “I will always treasure the many weeks I spent with our Women’s National Team players during the World Cup in France, and I’m thankful for their friendship. As U.S. Soccer moves ahead with its defense against the lawsuit by the team, I hope that our remarkable women’s players are always treated fairly and with the dignity, respect and admiration they truly deserve.”Cordeiro took over as U.S. Soccer president in February 2018 after Sunil Gulati stepped away from the organization following the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying failure. Cindy Cone, former USWNT midfielder and current U.S. Soccer vice president, will now step in as president